We are here – Good Friday – the day Jesus dies for all of us because He loved us to the point of embracing death on a Cross! This is so big -- have we really internalized the true meaning of this. Our human minds and our human hearts can not wrap around this immense act of love. We have taken so much for granted. Hopefully, this stay at home order has given opportunity for all of us to look more deeply at these mysteries of love which are unfolding before us this Holy Week. It is such a mystery! It seems hard for us to understand how such love brings about such suffering – even after being exposed to the Cross all of our lives. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen would always talk about how we are not spectators. This is not a moment in time where we just recollect history. Many forget the words of Jesus to his disciples: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matt. 16:24
Last year, I touched on the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen and how he would also talk about the scars of Christ and how we too are called to the same in order to receive the victory. I paraphrased words taken from a talk he did in the 1940’s on his radio show because it was too long to put in its entirety. This year, I would like to mingle those thoughts of his with St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, a Carmelite nun and mystic. She was given special graces to experience SOME of the love that existed in the Heart of Jesus. I will share some of her words below that of Archbishop Fulton Sheen to give some light on this Love from the Heart of Jesus that He gave to one of His victim souls!
ARCHBISHOP FULTON SHEEN
What do the scars of Jesus teach us? They teach us that life is a struggle: that our condition of a final resurrection is exactly the same as His; that unless there is a cross in our lives, there will never be an empty tomb; unless there is a Good Friday, there will never be an Easter Sunday; unless there is a crown of thorns, there will never be the halo of light; and unless we suffer with Him, we shall not rise with Him.
The scars are not only reminders that life is a warfare, but they are also pledges of victory in that war. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 By this He means that He has overcome evil in principle. Evil will never be able to be stronger than it was on that particular day, for the worst thing that evil can do is not to ruin cities and to wage wars and to drop atomic bombs against the good and the living. The worst thing that evil can do is to kill God. Having been defeated in that, in its strongest moment, when evil wore its greatest armor, evil can never be victorious again!
Jesus’ scars and His victory over evil do not give us immunity from: pain, sorrow, disappointments, crucifixion and death. What He offers is not immunity from evil in the physical world, but immunity from sin in our souls. The final conquest of physical evil will come in the resurrection of the just. What He does teach us is to bear the worst this life has to offer with courage and serenity and to regard all of its trials as a share in His own Passion which will transfigure some of life’s greatest pains into the richest gains of the spiritual life.
With St. Paul, we can cry out: “Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation: Or distress? Or famine? Or nakedness? Or danger? Or Persecution? Or the sword….but in all these things we overcome because of Him that hath loved us! For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord” Romans 8:35-39
ST. MARY MAGDALEN de PAZZI: (taken from The Complete Works Vol. 1)
O my Love, when shall I possess You? When shall I be united perfectly with You? When shall I love You infinitely? M Jesus, no more love, because I cannot bear more! But if You want to give me more of it, give me as much as You wish. But give me the strength to bear it! O holy Virgin, how were you able to stand there? You saw Him, and He was Your Son; yet more, He was God! And you knew that He was doing this for the love that He has for creatures. How could you, I say, stand there without bursting from sorrow, when I, who do not see Him, break down and become exhausted because of my great sorrows? Indeed, my Jesus, You did well to show me last Saturday that Mary was temperate in all things!
(Then turning to the nuns who were present, she held out to them the crucifix that she held in her hand and said to them: "LOVE HIM. LOVE HIM, MY JESUS! DO LOVE HIM, YOU, BECAUSE NO ONE LOVES HIM!" This she repeated several times, speaking words all filled with love and at the same time filled with compassion, words that I would not know how to voice or to explain. Furthermore, on this said day, she bore a very great sorrow, both interiorly and exteriorly, weeping and suffering much because she saw that Love was not loved or known because of the malice of creatures.)
May we not complain or drag our cross. May we embrace it for His sake and for the sake of the Church which is suffering and losing souls to Hell each day and each moment. May we fight the good fight and keep hope for a final victory. This life is short and the next eternal – may we not squander grace.
May Our Lady of Sorrows, Mother of God and Mother of us all – pray for us and guide us to the Cross. May we remember that without Mary we will not make it to the foot of the Cross. Only those in the company of Mary made it to the foot of the Cross then and it is the same now. May we not run in fear but stand bravely with Her.
God bless your Good Friday with many graces!
Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 41 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 5 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!